‘Knowledge Porridge’ – The Weave

Weave_lite

“On the street for knowledge, you must eat your porridge.”

BASING THE TITLE of their second album on that quote from a late ’80s song by The La’s (they of There She Goes), fellow Liverpudlians The Weave serve up this ten-track delight which brims with good cheer, memorable licks and more than a hint of positively-channelled mischief.

Led by trumpeter and composer Martin Smith, the band (who have played together in different guises for many years) have grown to be a key element of the city’s buzzing Georgian Quarter scene – an architecturally and artistically rich sector where live music at venues such as The Caledonia and The Grapes is keenly championed. Essentially a dual trumpet and guitar-fronted jazz sextet, they are joined on this recording (engineered by Tony Draper at the very local Parr Steet Studios) by a number of colleagues who add lustre to their happy, ebullient, sometimes quirky Liverpool sound drawn from hard bop and classic trad styles of jazz, as well as pop, rock and a whiff of Canterbury scene eccentricity.

You can get the drift from opener The Pogo (which Smith co-wrote with Frank Zappa drummer, the late Jimmy Carl Black), as it grooves with all the cheerful amiability of Clark Terry or Kenny Ball; and if the initial few bars’ impression is of modest easy-listening jazz/R&B, wait for the album’s irresistibly teasing influences to unfold. Plodding New Orleans-tinged Trumpet Ear audaciously chucks an unexpected extra beat here and there into its rising, Three Little Fishies-suggested motif (Smith’s improvisational trumpet style here not unlike Freddie Hubbard), and the vibes-sparkling I’m In Your House hits a fabulously ’60s about-town blend of Gerry Marsden’s Pacemakers, retro-pop Merseyside band The Coral, and even Herb Alpert (with cool guitar improv from Anthony Ormesher).

The blithe, late-’60s/early-’70s mood is perpetuated in dreamy Our Day On The Mountain, its precise call-and-answer arrangement and smooth, high-reaching flugel lines recalling the late, great Kenny Wheeler; and Evolve and Expand, featuring the voice and acoustic guitar of writer Luciana Mercer, shuffles coolly to sauntering piano and muted trumpets. Written by bassist Hugo Harrison, Para Parrot might imagine an agreeable Django Reinhardt and Dave Brubeck meet-up, with Satchmo guesting; and languishing Our Fathers seems to summon the case-solved closing titles of a monochrome TV detective series, albeit it with subtle Mariachi-twinned trumpets.

Swirling Celtic melodies in Not On Your Nelly (in Liverpool, ‘could be a ‘wet Nelly’ – Google it!) find Smith wonderfully mimicking the double-stopping effect of Irish fiddle music as the piece stomps assuredly, whilst eclectic, new-age title track Knowledge Porridge perhaps reflects the leader’s long association with Kevin Ayers, its faux-tango feel crowned by a bizarre yet eloquent Vivian Stanshall-like oration from trumpeter Anthony Peers. And the gentle, musical-box waltz of charmingly-titled Princess Salami Socks (dedicated to Smith’s young god-daughter, with lilting cello duet from her parents) wistfully winds down the album to its conclusion.

This is certainly a release of fascinatingly different flavours from a clutch of musicians who, through many years of collaboration and enjoyment of their art, intuitively ‘click’ – and it’s a great left-field Summer pleaser, to boot.

Released on 6 July 2015, Knowledge Porridge is available at Bandcamp as download, CD and limited edition 12″ vinyl.

 

Martin Smith trumpet, flugelhorn, musicbox
Anthony Peers trumpet, flugelhorn, spoken word
Anthony Ormesher guitar
Hugo “Harry” Harrison double bass
Tilo Pirnbaum drums
Rob Stringer piano
Andrzej Baranec piano
Vidar Norheim vibraphone
Stuart Hardcastle percussion
with
Luciana Mercer vocals, acoustic guitar
Michael Head 12-string acoustic guitar
Georgina Aasgaard cello
Jonathan Aasgaard cello

theweavemusic.com

Rufusalbino Records (2015)

‘These Skies In Which We Rust’ – John Law’s New Congregation

JohnLaw

FOR ALMOST thirty years, classically-trained British pianist John Law has been pushing on the door of jazz creativity, forming and reshaping his own particularly diverse routes through an impressive catalogue of ensemble and solo piano releases.

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…

 

John Law piano, keyboards, glockenspiel
Josh Arcoleo tenor sax
Yuri Goloubev double bass
Laurie Lowe drums, ibo drum
with 
Holly Law voice

johnlaw.org.uk

33 Extreme – 33Xtreme006 (2015)

‘Land Grab’ – Sam Trapchak

LandGrab

THE HEADY GROOVE of this solid Stateside jazz/rock album has had me transfixed for some weeks. But it’s way too good to keep to myself!…

Land Grab – the second release, as leader, from Michigan-born double bassist Sam Trapchak and his irrepressible quartet of Greg Ward (alto sax), Tom Chang (electric guitar) and Christian Coleman (drums) – hits a remarkable balance of compositional and improvisatory verve; and its the raw power of frontline alto and guitar combined with robust bass and drums which holds the attention throughout, as well as an impressive ability to snap from lush, lofty chordal jazz into irresistibly gutsy hard rock riffs.

Tom Chang’s prominent, sustained and enquiring guitar style is likely to draw a good few comparisons – easily John McLaughlin or Pete McCann; perhaps John Abercrombie, Allan Holdsworth or John Goodsall – sharing a great voicing affinity here with saxophonist Greg Ward to pull off a raft of audaciously complex unison lines. Take, for example, bold, swaggering Lumpy’s Blues which, buoyed by the thunderously percussive rhythms of Trapchak and Coleman, resounds to brash, Led Zeppelin-like guitar-and-sax riffs; and Trapchak himself displays an animated bass pliancy reminiscent of Dave Holland or Ben Allison.

Pterofractal, which opens the album’s extended six-track sequence, soars deliciously to a frenzy of clanging guitar mixed with unfettered, Steve Coleman-like sax; and the searching ambience of Beautiful/Furious switches into fabulously overdriven, pitch-bent wailing from Chang. Here again, sax and guitar connect superbly in shrill, on-the-edge improvisation as Greg Ward’s alto sputters and swoons to the fierce rhythm (as writer, Trapchak rarely seeks the limelight, but is clearly the backbone of this quartet).

The briefest and most insular of the tracks, Bell Curve, is a lightly-trod episode of rising and falling contrapuntalism, predominantly for drumless trio – fascinating to hear how the differently-textured, almost Bachian melodies intertwine; and, introduced by Trapchak’s phonetic bass solo, nine-minute Breathing Room opens into a broad, prog jazz landscape redolent of the work of Asaf Sirkis or Nguyên Lê. Title track Land Grab closes the album in a blazing Weather Reportian/Mahavishnuan maelstrom fired by the persistent pulsation of bass and drums; and Ward’s lower alto register, not unlike Shorter, becomes hypnotic when combined with Chang’s piercing, seemingly McLaughlin-inspired soloing.

Released on Raw Toast Records, Land Grab is available from CD Baby as well as iTunes and Amazon. Sam Trapchak’s intelligent compositional prowess is intuitively realised by this fine quartet, and turning up the volume is requisite… but just keep those ‘air guitar’ hands on the steering wheel!

 

Sam Trapchak bass, compositions
Greg Ward alto sax
Tom Chang electric guitar
Christian Coleman drums

samtrapchak.com

Raw Toast Records (2015)

‘Our Lady of Stars’ – Sorana Santos

SoranaSantos

OVERFLOWING with intrigue and frequently startling with the unexpected, Sorana Santos’ debut album Our Lady of Stars on her own label I Dream in Sound feels like one of the most delightfully original vocal jazz offerings of the year to date; a recording whose original compositions and performances progress with delicious unpredictability until they eventually seep into one’s soul.

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…

 

Sorana Santos piano, prepared piano, guitar, voice
James Maddren drums
Joe Wright saxophones, feedback flute
Alex Bonney trumpet, cornet
Ligeti Quartet strings

sorana.co

I Dream in Sound – IDIS1CD (2015)

‘Days of Blue’ – Patrick Naylor

DaysofBlue

THE FIRST album under his own name for a decade, guitarist/composer Patrick Naylor presents Days of Blue – a bright and breezy collection of original music which, in collaboration with favourite instrumentalists and vocalists, comprises easy-flowing contemporary jazz imbued with soundtrack, folk and world music.

As an experienced session musician, band leader, educator, and also writer for film, television and BBC Radio, Naylor is adept at distilling these influences into an accessible sequence of ten numbers which gleam with a variety of hues and atmospheres. And whilst he is clearly an accomplished soloist and leader, this is far from an out-and-out ‘guitarist’s album’, but rather a varied, balanced and articulate jazz experience.

Opening with a lively raga feel, Baba flutters to Naylor’s rapid sitar-like guitar phrases, shared with alto sax – a TV theme soundworld full of mystery and conundrum (reminiscent of Christopher Gunning or George Fenton); and Naggar, the first of two vocal numbers, relaxes into Carpenters-style mellowness, Stephanie O’Brien’s clear, genial delivery enriched by atmospheric cello and accordion. The tenor-and-guitar impudence of Rifferama rolls to peppy drums and percussion, revealing both Patrick Naylor’s and Ian East’s improvisational composure – a tidy, chirpy outing; and warm, Jobimesque title track Days of Blue eases along to Sara Mitra’s dreamy vocals, blithe cello and ornamented feel-good acoustic guitar.

Initially dark and inquiring, the nine-minute major/minor expanse of Blue Morning opens out to showcase Patrick Naylor’s electric guitar prowess, his infectious bluesy groove sitting somewhere Mark Knopfler and BB King – and, along with David Beebee’s deliciously sleek Rhodes and Ian East’s cool, mode-exploring tenor, this becomes an irresistible standout. Waiting again displays that signature penchant for soundtrack, East’s soprano sax creating a deliciously wistful yet subtly tensile mood; and the edgy Latin pulse of Restless features deft, animated piano and beautifully-toned, Frisellian guitar soloing.

The prominent tenor assurance in Lost Song and After Dark is reminiscent of British saxophonist Tim Garland, as Naylor’s precise, softly-resonant guitar in the latter evokes the late, hazy afterglow of Summer evenings; and Vamp hints at late ’70s prog as grittier, sustained electric guitar (with echoes of Steve Hackett) weaves its way through Milo Fell’s colourful, open percussion.

An enjoyable album of measured congeniality rather than groundbreaking revelation – recorded and mixed by the renowned Derek Nash – Days of Blue is now available to purchase at Jazz CDs or Bandcamp (take a listen there).

 

Patrick Naylor guitars
Ian East saxes
David Beebee piano, double bass
Milo Fell drums, percussion
Alex Keen double bass
with
Natalie Rozario cello
Sophie Alloway drums
Daniel Teper accordion
Sara Mitra vocals
Stephanie O’Brien vocals

patricknaylor.com

Beeboss – PNDOB01 (2015)

‘This Is The Day’ – Giovanni Guidi Trio

Guidi

IF YOU ADMIRE expressive watercolour impressionism in contemporary jazz, this album by the trio of Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi, who is thirty this year, with its evocations of fragile, rain-teary washes across a broad, receptive canvas will prove particularly satisfying.

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…

 

Giovanni Guidi piano
Thomas Morgan double bass
João Lobo drums

ECM Records – ECM 2403 (470 9271) – 2015

‘New Era’ – Entropi

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ANNOUNCED by deep-space sleeve art and track listing, the crew of the Entropi head towards a galactic destination – and phasers are most emphatically set to stun. For debut album New Era, saxophonist and composer Dee Byrne’s quintet explore group improvisation in the context of “notions of chance and fate, our relationship with space and the cosmos and the unpredictable and insecure nature of existence.” 

Read the full review at LondonJazz News…

 

Dee Byrne alto sax
Andre Canniere trumpet
Rebecca Nash piano
Olie Brice double bass
Matt Fisher drums

entropimusic.com

F-IRE Collective – F-IRECD 78 (2015)